In your opinion, what is the most critical step when setting up a website or a blog? Because for me, it’s choosing a good domain name, and it never ceases to surprise me just how often this crucial step is overlooked!
Choosing a good domain name is extremely important – whether you’re looking for one for a personal blog or your business website. Along with choosing a good web hosting service, a great domain name builds a strong foundation for your website or blog and sets you up for success right from the get-go.
How to Choose a Good Domain Name
However choosing a good domain name is easier said than done, especially when you consider that a lot of good domains have already been picked up, given the fact that there are around 145 million TLD (Top-Level Domains – domains such as those ending in .com, .net, .org, .biz, etc.) in existence today!
Which makes it all the more tricky to choose a good domain name service.
Nonetheless, here are a few simple tips and tricks that will aid you in choosing the best possible domain name for your personal or business needs:
1. Stick with TLDs
TLD is short for Top-Level Domains and refers to domains ending with popular domain name extensions such as (but not limited to) the dotcom (.com), .net, .biz, .org, .us, and so on.
It is always a good idea to stick with a TLD for your website or blog. TLDs – the dotcom in particular – are the accepted standard when it comes to websites, and add credibility to your online presence. The dotcom is one of the most popular extensions out there, dotcom websites are the most visited in the world, and ideally, your website should be YourBusinessName.com or YourBlogName.com.
The popularity of the dotcom TLD also means that finding a good domain name ending in the .com extension might not be easy.
Other good alternatives to the dotcom TLD are:
- .Net: works for all kinds of websites, and should be your fall-back TLD, in case the dotcom domain name you’re looking for is not available.
- .Org: ideal for organizations, corporations, and businesses.
- .Biz: ideal for organizations, corporations, and businesses.
- .Edu: ideal for educational institutions.
- .US, .UK, etc: localized Top-Level Domain names, ideal for businesses based in a specific country or geographical location.
2. Keep it Relevant
Ideally, your domain name needs to be relevant to the nature of your business (or the subject-matter of your blog, whatever the case).
Relevance is essential – it lets the other person know about the nature of your website at a glance, and is also very beneficial from an SEO perspective (as we shall soon see).
Example: Starting a blog on iPhone app reviews? Try looking for something like iPhoneAppReview.com or something similar. As you can see, it immediately tells a potential visitor (such as someone looking for app reviews on Google) what your website is about – and this could improve your CTR as well.
3. Keep it Short and Simple
It is essential to keep your domain name short and simple. Simply for the reason that a short and/or a simple name will be easier to remember for your customers, clients, and visitors, easier to share with others, and easier to type into a web browser.
The last thing that you need is losing customers or traffic because of a long or overly-complicated domain name!
Example: TechCentral.com is better than ThisIsABlogAboutTechnologyAndStuff.com!
4. Think it Through
Brainstorm with your team, come up with a list of good shortlist of domain names and choose the best. Just take your time with it, you certainly don’t want to end up with a domain name that totally something else, like one of these or these unintentionally bad domain names!
Choose wisely – the domain name that you choose will stick with you for the rest of your life so it needs to be good. Many website rankings (such as Google PageRank) are actually associated with domain names, which means that if down the road, you decide to change domains, you’ll essentially need to start from scratch as far as your online ranking is concerned!
Finally, make sure that the domain name you choose doesn’t infringe on existing copyright. Something like Faecbuk.com is almost certainly a lawsuit waiting to happen!
5. Get Creative
Facebook.com, Shopify.com, Twitter.com, Last.Fm, Flickr.com, Del.icio.us, and Will.I.Am is all just a few examples of creative domain names. Can’t find the domain name that you want? It might be a good time to put your head down and get creative!
Also, since it is almost certain that any single-word domain name that you look for is likely to have already been taken, try putting together 2 or more words (just make sure it doesn’t become too long; ideally it should be under 10-15 alphabets), using a phrase, combining a word and a prefix or a suffix, or inventing a completely new word!
Example: Try something like SuprSteve.com if you can’t find Steve.com.
6. SEO Considerations
From an SEO perspective, here are a few things to consider:
Put one (or more) of your main keywords if possible – in ideal circumstances, the best domain name would be an exact-match keyword-only domain name.
Avoid numbers and hyphens unless absolutely necessary.
And make sure that your domain name is your brand (see point no. 2). Branding is essential from an SEO-perspective. According to Matt Cutts, head of the Google Webspam Team, “Google likes brands because users like brands.” If your domain name is the same as your organization name, it automatically has an edge in terms of SEO, giving it a higher chance of ranking well on the SERP for your keywords.
7. Get Help
There is plenty of services to help you out with choosing a great, short, creative, and brand-able domain name for yourself. For instance here are some of the services that I use:
- Domainr: Can’t find the domain name you’re looking for? This creatively-named website will provide you with some fantastic alternatives! Simply type any word in the box on the website, and it will return with a bunch of suggestions, helping you look at and choose alternative domain names.
- BustAName: One of my favorites! Add a bunch of words (keywords) that you would want in your domain name, and BustAName will provide you with a list of available domain names based on those words! The suggestions that it comes up with will include domain names based on a combination of one, two, or more of the words you provide. Add or remove as many words as you want!
- SuggestName: Does what it says, i.e. provides a list of domain name suggestions based on a list of prefix and suffix words that you provide it with. It simply combines different words from the two lists to provide suggestions.
- Domize: Finally, there’s Domize – a service which provides domain name suggestions in real-time, as you type into the search box.
The best part is that all these services are free to use!
Stick to these domain name practices are you’re pretty much set and good to go. Once you’ve come up with a good one, make sure to hit one of the many domain name registrars out there and snap it up before someone else does.
Tomorrow I will show you how to register a domain name on GoDaddy.com – which is one of the most popular domain name registrars out there, so watch this space!